NØRR3 monthly pulse: What does it take to win in this digital age?

NØRR3 was founded to bring growth for our customers through unleashing their digital potential – by merging business mathematics with the right people and the latest technology. We believe there are many great opportunities to grow through systematic strategy creation and execution.

There is no future for companies without 360 degree digital thinking. Think about designing a car without digital extensions – your market potential is next to zero. But no one wants to buy just digital extensions from your car – customers want to buy your super car with all your fancy digital extensions. Same goes into strategies – forget your sub-strategies like digital strategy. There is only one strategy for every company.
There is huge digital potential that companies could unleash. We at NØRR3 focus on that besides focusing on operating models and teams.

In this first NØRR3 monthly pulse we wanted to focus on the Must Win Battles (MWBs) companies should tackle in order to grow and glow. Through our experience we believe there are five critical MWBs to be tackled common to all companies; 

  1. Create a clear and executable strategy and Growth Map
  2. Ensure the uniqueness and loveable brand and offering
  3. Have the right talent and hybrid teams in place
  4. Make sure that there are clear roles and excellent leadership
  5. Build consistent end2end funnel, define and measure all critical KPIs
    and ensure continuous testing and optimizing.

Through the years we have developed quite quick and effective workshopping method to define right MWBs. This work usually takes 2–3 months with executable Growth Maps as outcomes of projects.

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To get a grip on what visionary leaders think about their MWBs, we called few of them from various industries, and asked how they see their top MWBs for the near foreseeable future. Here is what they said:

Niklas Sontag, Business Director at NOLI Studios and NREP

In order to create an excellent service model from scratch and start a new company like Noli Studios (nolistudios.com) these Must Win Battles should be tackled:

1. Create a service and business model that is appealing enough from the angles that matter and make growth possible
2. Ensure that you find the right people to build the platform and execution is driven by targeting an excellent customer experience
3. Have good partners and employees who understand what we are going to create and who actually know how to build it by being true to your objectives every single day

Digitality makes it easier and should be applied so that it empowers and streamlines people to successfully execute the service and business model. It also supports the overall customer experience and allows us to scale the model successfully. Strategy should provide a compelling vision when it is created and with the right people it will also evolve into the right direction.

Micke Nordman, CEO and Partner at Kallan & Co

1. Visionary Leadership
To win in digital age, every company needs leaders who have the courage and vision to accept how much and how fast the world is changing, and who are able to strategically work towards a clear and compelling vision. Without a clear direction that is big enough to attract the best talent on the market, and clear enough to direct all energies of the organization towards a shared goal, a lot of money and energy will be wasted.

2. A culture of fast innovation and quality
There are no right or wrong answers to how to reach a future vision or objective. A culture of experimentation, problem solving, constant learning and execution must be in place to be able to find the right solutions. But the era in which myriads of service designers and creatives were allowed to spend endless amounts of time and money on just testing things and doing fun stuff are most definitely gone. In the future this process must be driven by strict quality requirements and by speed. Everything that is launched must be flawless and of the highest quality. You only get one shot.

3. Focus
In an era of endless competition, the winners are the ones who are able to truly focus. The ones that do less, but better, will prevail. Digitalization has led many a company to do a little of everything, which most definitely is not a good idea.
A) Drastically cut your media budget and force your organization to do better content or growth-hacking.
B) Use much smaller teams but with better mixes of skills.
C) Choose the channels in which you can win and master them while forgetting about the rest.. No one has to be everywhere.
D) Don’t do things you do not have the right resources or funding for. They will not succeed. Accidents like that (unfortunately) do not happen.
E) Cut your schedules and deadlines in half, or more. The world is changing exponentially and you need to be just as fast, or faster.

Head of digital commercial activities at a major bank

1. Data into use to support customer centricity
Banking industry has a lot of data that is not used. Now as interfaces are to be opened, very beneficial services for customers are going to spring to life.

2. Building the ecosystem
Everybody needs to define their value chain and ecosystem. Partnering and data sharing is playing a key role in the future survival game.

3. Adapt to customer behaviour change
This change is faster than we tend to understand and organizations have hard time changing their processes and services in adapting to that change. The new generation thinks: “Why can’t I type ‘Give me a loan’ into Google, and the loan is immediately granted to my bank account?” A lot of pressure is also coming from true transparency. Everybody is saying they are transparent but how many of them actually are?

Ami Hasan, Executive Chairman and Founder of Hasan & Partners Group

1. Get real
Still after 20 disruptive years, many companies seem to think their business is secure. Every company is already in a run-or-die competition against global disruptors who are bigger, more efficient and better resourced. Most just don’t acknowledge it. Almost all old companies have built their value chain from sourcing towards customers, and they are already in a hurry to change it starting from the customer and towards sourcing. That changes everything. Everything.
 
2. Digitalize everything
Could we just stop talking about digital strategies. There’s no strategy without digitising everything than can be digitised. All leaders must understand what digital actually makes possible and how to utilize it. If your management team still insists on discussing digital strategy, make sure that the discussion is not about the content of your social media campaigns.

3. Forget quarters
All smart CEOs in their forties and fifties already understand how the value chain should be rebuilt and that long term success requires long term planning. But their boards still incentivise them on short term wins – quarterly results, quarterly stock price and even quarterly cash flow. The average term of a CEO in a publicly quoted company is three years, so why go against board’s guidance when it will really be your successor’s problem, he will be the one who hits full speed to a concrete wall. Boards and owners, wake up now!

Sanna Näkkilä, Director, Business Development at Fiskars Group

1. Towards higher purpose
Ensure higher purpose for the business with right business model & full value chain transparency  – ethical luxury is the only real luxury of tomorrow.

2. Get the best talent
Retain & recruit the best talent with right values and passion for the given business & brands, creating culture of enthusiasm and curiosity.

3. Excite the target group
Excite the target group by designing the most value adding branded experiences (offline & online seamlessly combined) – product is commodity in the future, everything can be copied, hence experiences are the only way to be in a luxury business.

Elina Kivioja, CEO at Vattenfall Finland Oy

1. Create impact through content creation
Energy industry has a powerful position in changing the way people think about climate and pollution. It bothers me that now the whole industry is just product- and price-focused and as this has been taught to customers over the years it is quite hard to change. But it can and must be changed.

2. Talent diversity
Only 25 % from the employees in our industry are women – I am even the only female-CEO! We must start recruiting new talent from all kinds of backgrounds and from different industries to really start the change and get new fresh ideas into the table.

3. Educate customers about different energy types
We must continue the education of our customers about different energy types and how they are linked together. Hydroelectricity is very important and we need to tell more about it to our customers.

Through these great calls and views we here at NØRR3 got so much energy to jump into new ventures with our customers – hope you got too!

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By now everybody knows – or should know – that digital leaders typically run 4 times faster and pull critical levers 2 times harder than other companies do (McKinsey). Power in decision making has changed to customers in 50 years or so. Digital is putting pressure on profit pools as customers can access all of the data anytime and from anywhere. Value chain must be rethought and streamlined. Brands will vanish if they try to do business traditionally and have no balls to change the way they have been working previously. Of course this is not easy – but what options do brands have as competitors shift down and accelerate to the horizon?

Digital performers are often bold, they have clear vision and they are quick with a good pace when executing their strategy. Being digital is not just new dynamic banners bought through programmatic or new app through which employees are able to check product availability in stores. Digital way of working goes everywhere. However, if the current digital maturity level is low, it is extremely hard to really understand how big cultural shift this will be. In this situation brands usually prefer bigger investments within known areas rather than investments in creating digital business and culture. Since there is no knowledge about digital at all, there is no capability to create a business case around it either. But it is sexy to do something within this hot potato so small pilots (linked to nothing, measured from impressions) will be launched and because there are no strings to strategy, they are doomed to fail.
Pilots do not have enough power to change the existing culture and therefore nothing will be changed.

There is a great chance in digital business but it requires good strategy, clear executable Growth Map and great leadership to get it done and get it done right. All B2B-companies still have a huge opportunity in this. Last year we did a strategy workshop series for one of them and found out that there are hundreds of employees in sales-functions compared to only few in marketing. Still this company is very profitable. Just waiting how profitable they could become after the power from the new set of Must Win Battles will be unleashed.

Antti

The writer is the Co-Founder and Strategy Director of NØRR3 and has been creating strategies and Growth Maps for many well known brands over the years. Companies Antti has founded have been awarded with the best B2B-software in GrandOne (Roottori, 2008) as one of the fastest growing tech companies (Deloitte tech 50/500) in whole Europe (Roottori, 2008) and as the MarTech Agency of the Year (P+SBD, 2017).